The beginning of Irish words can change.
A séimhiú or lenition is one type of these initial changes.
Séimhiú literally means "a softening" and involves adding the letter "h" after the first consonant in the word that is being changed. The séimhiú changes both the sound of the word and its spelling.
Some examples of when a séimhiú is used with nouns include:
- after some possessive pronouns (e.g. mála > mo mhála)
- with the article "an" before a feminine noun (e.g. fuinneog > an fhuinneog)
- after "a" in the vocative case, used when calling or addressing someone (e.g. Bríd > a Bhríd)